Starring: Albert Sharpe, Sean Connery, Janet Muro
An elderly Irish crackpot named Darby O'Gill (Sharpe) is forced into retirement at an inopportune time in Walt Disney's classic, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People." Darby is largely seen as the village lunatic, constantly ridiculed by his peers for his wild tales of leprechauns and crocks of gold. Little do the village residents and pub regulars know that Darby's run-ins with mischievous wee ones are true! While the old man matches wits with the king of the leprechauns, he simultaneously attempts to balance his life as the village caretaker with the task of playing matchmaker for his daughter (Muro) and a the strapping new caregiver (Connery).
The Story: It's simple, it's predictable, and it's charming. The plotline following Darby O'Gill and his friendly feud with the king of the leprechauns is fun - like a trip to your grandparents' house. (That's not a bad thing, right?) If you can be patient with the slow pace of the story, you may really enjoy it.
The Acting: Was the acting good back in the '50s? Or was it really horrible? It's sometimes hard to tell. "Darby O'Gill" is a great example of this Hollywood conundrum. Everybody's in full Cheese Mode, the Irish accents verge on undecipherable at times, and the facial expressions are off the hook from start to finish, but a young, up-and-coming actor by the name of Sean Connery shines every time he graces the screen with his presence.
The Genre: Old school Disney movies might as well be their own genre. These babies are CLASSICS. You've got to understand what you're getting into when you pop one of these puppies in the good old DVD player. It's going to be campy, there will be at least one catchy musical number, and, because it was made in the '50s, you can expect that the special effects will be suspect (until you watch the bonus features, at which point you will be SHOCKED by how advanced that technology was).
If you've never seen one of the old Wonderful World of Color films in your entire life - if you are watching this movie for the very first time in the year of our Lord, 2013, you will probably hate it forever and ever. But if you grew up watching these as a child or a young person, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" is a cute little stroll down memory lane. If you get a chance, grab a copy this St. Patrick's Day and let your inner wannabe-Irishman run amok. You may also be interested in: "The Gnome-Mobile" (1967), "Blackbeard's Ghost" (1968), "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961).
DVD bonus features:
- Audio in English, French
- Subtitles in English, French, Spanish
- "Mr. Connery Goes to Hollywood": A biographical featurette based on the early acting career of Sir Sean Connery - starring the man, himself!
- "Little People, Big Effects": An incredibly fascinating look at how the old-school special effects in the movie were produced.
- "I Captured the King of the Leprechauns": A 30-minute TV show starring Walt Disney to convince audiences that he had, in fact, captured the king of the leprechauns. Worth watching to see Mr. Disney in action, but it shows lengthy clips of the actual feature film, so it may be repetitive to watch in one sitting. (The Salt Lake City DVD Examiner found that out by experience.)
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Running time: 93 minutes
MPAA rating: Approved. Nothing overly offensive. A few frightening images. Two characters sing a song while becoming intoxicated.
Costars Jimmy O'Dea, Kieron Moore
DVD release date: August 3, 2004
Looking to find "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" on DVD in the Salt Lake area? Check out these suggested links: